A rampant Macclesfield Town put four past Halifax Town in a dominant New Year’s Day performance at the Shay. Mitch Hancox was the hero with a hat-trick, as well as a goal from striker Scott Wilson.
The performance leaves the Silkmen six points clear at the top of the National League, and nine points from nine in the busy festive period since Christmas Day.
John Askey made five changes to the side which put their all into the 1-0 victory over Sutton United at the weekend. Noe Baba came into the starting XI making his first start since the 16th of September, with goalkeeper Sam Ramsbottom also in the side following Shwan Jalal’s dismissal against the U’s. But it was the inclusion of Mitch Hancox that would make the biggest difference for the Silkmen.
As the rain came down at The Shay, the game had a similarly soggy start, with neither side able to find a clear-cut breakthrough. Focus was placed upon the attacking prowess of Tom Denton and the Silkmen’s Scott Wilson but both struggled against their opposite numbers.
As always Keith Lowe was solid at the back for Macclesfield, whilst Cliff Moyo impressed for the home side. The first half-chance of the game came in the unlikely form of defender George Pilkington, but he blazed his effort way over the bar.
Wilson continued to search for the opening for the Silkmen but he was thwarted by the offside trap, as Mitch Hancox looked to thread the ball into him. But the best chance of the half was created by Hancox, who fired a ball across the six-year-box in the 27th minute with Scott Burgess just inches away from putting it into the back of the net.
Ten minutes later Halifax went close to breaking the deadlock themselves, after good work from Dion Charles put through Michael Collins who lifted his shot just over the bar.
But it was league leaders Macclesfield Town who had the final say in the first half, as Ryan Lloyd crossed into the box, and Mitch Hancox managed to finish past Sam Johnson in the Halifax goal.
With just the one goal separating the sides going into the second-half both teams came out full of attack. Macclesfield continued in the same vein as before the break, with Mitch Hancox doubling the Silkmen’s tally, in the right place at the right time to bundle in Danny Whitehead’s shot just two minutes after the break.
Halifax changed the focus of their attack with top scorer Denton sacrificed as George Waring came on for the Shaymen. But it was to no avail as the Silkmen – clinical in attack – soon added a third. Whitehead, particularly impressive in the second half, hit a shot from distance, which goalkeeper Johnson parried away, and Wilson was on hand to smash home the rebound.
Halifax didn’t give up however, and with the support of over 1,000 fans at the Shay, substitute Waring pulled a goal back in the 69th minute. Almost immediately the Silkmen responded, awarded a penalty following a Macclesfield corner. Mitch Hancox stepped up to take to complete his hat-trick and slotted past Johnson to reassert the three-goal cushion.
There was still more late drama to be had in an action-packed game, as Halifax were awarded a penalty by the linesman, but Ben Tomlinson fired a poor spot kick high over the bar.
The victory sees Macclesfield Town retain their six-point lead at the top of the National League table.
Macclesfield Town Starting XI: Ramsbottom, Pilkington ©, Lowe, Kennedy, Fitzpatrick, Hancox, Lloyd (Arthur 82’), Burgess, Baba, Whitehead (Durrell 79’), Wilson (Marsh 74’)
Subs not used: Richards, Whitaker
Attendance: 1962 (321 Macclesfield fans)
Goalscorers: Hancox 45’, 47’, 71’ Wilson 59’
Yellow card: Pilkington 61’
By Molly Hudson